Author: Amanda

Family Prayer and Julian of Norwich

This week, my small children have been in vacation fallout mode and it’s made me very thankful to return to our family rhythms of morning and evening prayer.* I set church bells as an alarm on my phone, so ideally, around 9am or so, we gather together. My 3 year old generally fights it (but she fights everything). It’s very normal for her to energetically cry through the first half of our prayers. But it doesn’t matter. This year, I’ve become less easily deflated by my kids’ resistance, knowing that it’s just as vital for us to structure our day with prayer as it is to have regular, healthy meals. The 3 year old resists food as well, but it doesn’t mean that she doesn’t need to eat in order to live. And for me, I’ve come to realize that family prayer isn’t only a matter of parents catechizing our children. It’s not just for them. These times aren’t the “kid version” of the real thing. It’s all the real thing. When we pray together, …

“Life by the Kalendar”

From Spiritual Proficiency, by Martin Thornton: ” ‘The Christian is, in one sense, successively becoming what, in another sense, he already is. He increasingly makes his own the supernatural and eternal life which is the life of God. Hence on the supernatural plane he transcends the separation of past-present-and-future.’ [Mascall] The importance of this theology is that the Church’s year, incorporated in the Kalendar, is of private as well as corporate significance. In practice, life in the Church, and recollection of that life, means life by the Kalendar and we must believe that the little bit of time-space experience we call ‘June the twenty-ninth’ really means something definite to all the saints in heaven and to St. Peter in particular. The Office and Mass on that day, and therefore our private prayer as well, are no bare memorial to one of the Apostles, but the expression of this time-eternal, earth-heaven, nature-grace, link. . . . . . the Church’s Kalendar provides not just a useful means of conducting services in an orderly way, but a practical basis …

Pregnant or Nursing During Lent? Don’t Feel Guilty.

This past week, some of my friends and I were talking about motherhood and Lent. All of them are either nursing or pregnant, and I, for the first time in years, am neither. They were saying, “I feel a little guilty for not fasting during Lent.” And I responded (in many more words): “Don’t feel guilty! I did, too. But now that I’m experiencing Lent without being pregnant or nursing, I won’t feel that way again.” Then they said, “Write a post on this for the Homely Hours!”* And so, I did. Lent calls for sacrificial love through fasting every year. But that can look different, and it ought to look different for those who are are nursing or pregnant. Lenten fasting always comes with the caveat: “Those who are ill, those who are pregnant or nursing, those with strenuous jobs, and young children, etc. are not expected to keep this fast.” Our Mother Church asks us for different sacrifices at different seasons of our life, but she will not burden us with more than …

Quinquagesima

Collect O Lord, who hast taught us that all our doings without love are nothing worth; Send thy Holy Ghost, and pour into our hearts that most excellent gift of love, the very bond of peace and of all virtues, without which whosoever liveth is counted dead before thee. Grant this for thine only Son Jesus Christ’s sake. Amen. Saints and “Blesseds” Monday, March 2: John and Charles Wesley John and Charles Wesley were born in the early 1700s to an Anglican priest and a Puritan mother. They were first called “Methodists” because of their habit of attending Holy Eucharist every Sunday, as opposed to the popular habit of attending three or four times a year. Both ordained as Anglican priests, they set out to reform the English church with a strict “method” of faith and practice, influenced by German pietism. Their message grew so popular with laypeople (and so unpopular with Anglican clergy) that they had to preach in open-air meetings. They always intended a revival within Anglicanism and not to separate, though the …

Lenten Family Prayer (+ Doing Nothing New)

“Given the many layers of meaning in Lent, we won’t grasp all of them in a single year. But imagine if we were to observe Lent every year for the rest of our life — imagine how much we would grow and mature.” This quote is from my priest, Fr. Wayne McNamara. What a thought to keep us from being overwhelmed by options. Lord willing, we have many Lents ahead of us. What does He want us to focus on this year in 2019? The Lenten “triad” of Fasting, Prayer, and Acts of Compassion concentrates our efforts into what really matters as we prepare for Easter. And we can pray for guidance: “O God, by whom the meek are guided in judgement, and light riseth up in darkness for the godly; Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what thou wouldest have us to do, that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in thy light we may see light, and in thy straight …

Tending the Garden of Our Hearts

I’m always on the lookout for good family resources to celebrate the church year. So I took the opportunity to review Tending the Garden of Our Hearts: Daily Lenten Meditations for Families by Elissa Bjeletich and Kristina Wenger, receiving a copy from Ancient Faith Publishing in exchange for my honest review. When I expressed interest in the book, I made sure they knew that I’m not Orthodox. But as an Anglican, I welcomed this opportunity to learn more about Great Lent in Orthodoxy. The book consists of daily devotionals that follow and deepen the theme for each Sunday in Great Lent: Forgiveness, Orthodoxy, Prayer, The Cross/Humility, The Ladder of Divine Ascent/Alms-giving, and St. Mary of Egypt. It’s based on the authors’ podcast last year and it’s meant for families with children of all ages to read together. To any Orthodox families that happen to read this blog, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. It’s a resource that strengthens the connection between the home and the church. It will carry you along with the traditions of the …

Teaching Scripture to Our Children

One of the reasons my husband and I came to Anglicanism is because of the reverence in the worship. The glad solemnity of our Anglican liturgy harmonized with our understanding of the Scriptures — humility and the “fear of the Lord”  as part of our response to the love and mercy of Christ. As we became parents, it was important to us to communicate that reverence and glad solemnity to our children. We felt it did a disservice to both Christianity and our children to dumb the faith down, but it can be confusing to have that conviction. So many of the books and products available for children are kitsch-y, cartoon-y, irreverent. I don’t really want my children associating Bible stories with talking vegetables… So, we have been very reticent. Going along with our church, we have invited our children into the fullness of our Christian practice. They attend the liturgy with us from the very beginning, learning the service music and hymns. We try to give them what we believe is the truly beautiful …

Christmas Hymns & Carols (2 per day)

As promised in the Advent Hymns and Carols post, I’ve also compiled a list of Christmas (and Epiphany) Hymns and Carols. It was much more difficult to decide upon these songs — there are so many favorites. So, as with the Advent post, please consider this a first draft, to be improved upon next year. And, as with the Advent post, please tell me if you find mistakes! My rationale was to pair one well known hymn or carol with another that is lesser known throughout Christmastide. My hope is that this list helps us celebrate all twelve days of Christmas (I’m always so thankful at our church, that we get to keep singing our Christmas music together on the First Sunday of Christmas). And, I decided to also throw in some hymns for Epiphany as well. Lastly, please note the lovely carolers by my dear artist friend Michelle Abernathy (you can find her on Facebook and Instagram.)  Wouldn’t her painting make the best Christmas cards? May the Lord bless our Christmastide festivities with His harmony …

Celebrating St. Lucy at Our House

Auntie Leila wisely counsels: “The Church has provided us with all we need and we don’t have to manufacture any feelings about it. Follow her lead in worship. That is, follow her in the celebration of the mysteries, the readings appointed for each day and each hour, and the prayers that gently and peacefully direct our gaze where it needs to be. Be attentive: Wisdom! Bring this objectivity into the home with simple, liturgy-related traditions (and yes, a few little crafts, perhaps, and I will touch on those later) that appeal to you and your husband. Keep things old-fashioned so that, paradoxically, they remain timeless and universal. Make your devotions few and meaningful to your time and place. (E.g. if you are Swedish, then go for the daring St. Lucy crown of lit candles on a toddling girl’s head this December 13, but if you are not, don’t worry about it too much.)” Well, part of my family is Swedish. When I was reading this, I thought to myself, I should ask my Swedish cousin how she celebrates St. …

Why We Love Christmas Music

In my Advent Hymns and Carols post, I suggested that one way to keep Advent is to save up the Christmas carols (as much as possible) until Christmastide. But, I do understand why someone would want to start listening to Christmas carols right after Halloween. I sympathize with all the Christmas music over-eagerness. It’s because Christmas music is made to last and it’s made to be shared. It’s because in modern America, Christmas music is really the only folk music tradition that we still treasure on a large scale. And that is our loss. Folk music is music that is passed down from generation to generation, music that is shared and interpreted, while still keeping a recognizable integrity. At Christmastime, instead of constant novelty in music, we delight in the familiarity of the old — “Silent Night,” “Carol of the Bells,” “Joy to the World,” “White Christmas.”  We enjoy hearing musicians interpret a song within a tradition, within a conversation — it’s just “new enough.” At Christmas, we share music with those who are completely …